Yeah, remember when I said Occupy AIPAC was going to be across the street from AIPAC Policy Conference? Well…they crossed the street.
Liza Behrendt, a recent graduate of Brandeis University and a current member of the Avodah service corps in New York, interrupted a session with the help of CODEPINK organizer Alli McCracken, shouting that she had been “silenced” as a member of Jewish Voice for Peace at Brandeis.
The session, called The Struggle to Secure Israel on Campus, featured Hillel International honcho Wayne Firestone. Behrendt interrupted him, waving a banner that read, “Settlements Betray Jewish Values.”
“I felt that the story of Palestinians, Palestine solidarity activists and even young Jews who are being silenced were not being told,” she said.
Behrendt cited a Hillel regulation that banned JVP chapters and any other groups that advocated for BDS (the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel) from using Hillel spaces nationwide.
When I spoke to Firestone in his D.C. office, he told me that any group supporting BDS was banned from using Hillel space because that mission was antithetical to the continuity of a Jewish state in Israel.
“I believe our organization has a right to say who we are and what we believe in,” Firestone said, adding that the “destruction of Israel deeply offends me.”
Behrendt got into the conference “with some skill,” as she put it, even though she was not registered. She said she also objected to AIPAC’s support for war with Iran over its nuclear enrichment program.
“AIPAC is not actually representing the interests of the American people, the Israeli people, the Jews of the world and certainly not the Iranian people and the future of peace and democracy in the Middle East,” she said.
Occupy protesters Katie Falkenberg and Paul Talbot also interrupted Sen. Carl Levin’s, D-Mich., address to AIPAC, shouting, ‘Don’t bomb Iran. Equal rights for Palestinians.’
Both groups were drowned out by attendees’ applause.
Levin didn’t seem to mind.
“I’m happy to talk over that, don’t let that worry you,” he said. “I just pretend they’re applauding me.”